Red Hood and the Outlaws. One of the more mixed series in the New 52 line up. Some people really enjoyed it for its story, art, and/or characters. Some hate it, with one complaint being Starfire’s design (probably more so when it first came out). For me, it’s one of my favorites. What it did with it’s leading ragtag trio was really neat and one thing I liked was how Jason and Tim were able to reconcile (some people may not like it, but I feel like how they worked it out really suit the characters). I also enjoyed the characters that the group got along with. Rose Wilson made sense and Jason’s relationship with the League of Assassins and characters like Essence were cool. And who could have expected Killer Croc being a voice of reason for Roy’s addiction, even going as far to be his sponsor. It’s one of the weirdest, but endearing friendships out there.
However, if there was one friendship that I really enjoyed, it was Jason and Roy’s. While Roy was a founding member of the Teen Titans and friends with the other founding members of the Silver and Bronze Age, his friendship with Jason is a good one. While I by no means mean to dismiss his friendships with Dick, Wally, Garth, and Donna, there’s something about his friendship with Jason that speaks to me more. While part of that may be due to Red Hood and the Outlaws (New 52) being one of the first series I read where Roy took center stage (he was there periodically during New Teen Titans which I also read during that time), I can’t say that’s the only contributing factor.
These two have a good amount of things in common as they are different. Both don’t quite see eye to eye with their mentors, Jason because of his ideologies and Bruce’s conflicting as well as his death, while with Roy, Oliver was not as perfect on a fatherly front as well as not being of any help to Roy’s addiction. Jason is kind of the “black sheep” of the family and Roy is certainly combative with Oliver at times. That said, while Jason seems more pessimistic, Roy is more of an optimistic. For example, towards the end of Red Hood/Arsenal, Jason states how Roy’ll try to see the best in people where Jason may not. Roy also seems more cheery while Jason may seem more stoic. They both share similar backgrounds, and not just in the way of being sidekicks, and have just enough differences to be their own character.
I wouldn’t say that them forming a friendship wouldn’t be too farfetched. The two did work together one or twice during the New Teen Titans days, one including a mission against Cheshire, who was later revealed to have given birth to Roy’s daughter, Lian. While Roy may have been a bit older here, where as in New 52, they were probably a bit more closer in age, the two got along really well. They had good chemistry and seemed to get each other.
There’s really only one person Jason keeps falling back to when it comes to his best friend. That being Roy. Throughout the New 52 and Rebirth, you see Jason refer to Roy specifically as his best friend. He doesn’t say that about a lot of people. Outside of appreciating Dick, however he feels about Damian, and how he sees the later Outlaws like Bizarro, Artemis, and Essence, Tim is probably the only other person he seems to go into depth more about enjoying his companionship.
While Jason certainly enjoys the company of the other Outlaws, I’d say Roy was the one he was the closest to. He’s the only one Jason’s dubbed as a best friend, and was genuinely saddened upon hearing about his death in Heroes in Crisis (in which Jason finds out Roy died after his funeral). After that, we do get to see Jason lament over the loss, like when he’s having dinner with Isabel or when he sees him again thanks to time traveling shenanigans. A number of DC characters have that one good friend. Whether it be Batman and Superman, Green Lantern and Flash, or Red Robin and Superboy (Conner Kent), there are various characters who have a best friend that they can rely on. And for Jason Todd that’s Roy Harper.
Jason and Roy both wayward characters who are living life as best as they can. Both have gone through a lot of struggles, most notably death and addiction respectively (though Roy has also died thanks to Heroes in Crisis). While the two may not always agree, or their personalities opposing, they have a friendship that works. Jason doesn’t get close to a lot of people, and Roy is one of the select few. These two have, in my opinion, an underrated friendship that was one of the best things to come out of the New 52.